I'm hopping on here today, because I've had two conversations last week with agency founders, who, when I asked them their business goals have quoted, not revenue goals, but team size: the number of employees they want to have.
When I've questioned them, they said, "Yes, we've got revenue goals", however they haven't been able to put their finger on them. But they can tell me quite clearly how many people they want to be.
I find this quite scary because occasionally within the agency space, there's a perception that big is more important than efficiency and profitability. But of course, what everybody actually wants to achieve is higher profitability. When they say big, what they mean is higher turnover.
So I just wanted to quickly talk about that, because there are a few things that hold people back that are easy to resolve.
Another easy win is to make sure you set a minimum standard and stick to it: it might be as simple as having a sign on your desktop, which says 'It's our policy to not take on projects below £XXk amount'. That might be £40k, or £10k: whatever is right for you. But having it visible when you're on a new business call really helps you to stick by your guns.
The second point to address is positioning. I've found that the most profitable people or agencies are the ones who are really willing to say that they address a certain niche. A lot of companies shy away from this, they want to be 'everything to everyone in case a project comes in, and they get turned away because they don't look like they've got the expertise for it.
The reality is if a client thinks they're the right fit for you, you're the right fit for them, they'll hire you anyhow. And this is true of my business too, I see this time and time again: I say I work with small, ambitious design agencies to help them scale and grow. But I still get people in who aren't design agencies, I still work with agencies who are way bigger (and smaller) than the kind of clients that I position myself as working with. So don't think you're going to turn people away by niching down: it actually helps people to recognize that you might be the right fit for them.
An easy way to adapt your niche and positioning instantly is to look to the copy on your website adapt it to reflect who you actually want to be working with.
Thirdly, like attracts like: it's so vitally important to get your pricing and positioning right, so you're attracting the right kind of clients because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: when you set your prices and skillset at a certain level, you're appealing to a certain kind of client, and in turn, they attract more of the same. And by 'right clients', I mean the kind of work you want to do and the kind of profitability you want to be aiming for on a project.
You can implement this immediately by changing your outbound new business strategy so that you are targeting the size and calibre of business that will best help you reach your creative, niche and revenue goals. Use your previous experience credentials to draw them into a conversation: if they see a brand they admire on your client roster, they'll likely entertain a conversation with you.
So there are some quick-fix ways to avoid size goals spiralling out of hand. I really suggest you address these today, and then do some further reading and listening to reinforce the ideas until they feel comfortable and attainable.
While we're on the topic of whether big is as important as you think it is, a book that I come back to again and again is Company of One by Paul Jarvis
, which I really recommend you take a read of or listen to on Audible or somewhere so that you can get your head around it.
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